Milky Way For Sale

Hi all

It’s been a long time since I’ve had any images to post – fortunately that’s changing now.

We had some great skies up at Lostock at IISAC2009, and I was able to capture some widefield images and some experimental stuff. This image is the first I’ve had a chance to process since coming back, and it’s my first attempt at “light painting“.

It’s called “Milky Way For Sale” and was taken on Saturday night at IISAC2009. Click the image for a larger version.

Milky Way For Sale. Click image for 1200px wide version.

Milky Way For Sale. Click image for 1200px wide version.

The Milky Way Galaxy was positioned beautifully above the mountain, and Andrew Catsaitis (RB) and I had a great idea for a novelty shot. Continue reading to find out how this shot was done.

On the Saturday night at IISAC2009, my telescope gear was capturing a widefield image of M7 and while chatting with Andrew, I suggested we go down to one end of the main observing field and capture some long exposure images with my Canon 20D on the fixed tripod – highlighting the witches hats (cones) that were positioned to look like an airport runway when the red lights reflected off them.

We set up at the North end of the field, and during a 2-minute exposure, we walked along the field, highlighting the cones with our red head lamps. As we were previewing the images, we saw how beautifully positioned the Milky Way was above the mountain. Andrew suggested I draw an arrow with my head lamp pointing to the Milky Way, and we then came up with the idea to light paint “for sale” as well.

And so here is the result!

The image is a combination of a number of exposures, all taken with my Canon 20D and Sigma 17-70mm lens on a fixed tripod:

  • 2x 2min exposures for the foreground “runway”
  • 5x 30s exposures for the milky way galaxy
  • 1x 15s exposure for the light-painted arrow
  • 1x 30s exposure for the light-painted “for sale”

All combined and layered/masked in Photoshop.

It was great fun, and the result came out better than I expected. The light-painting was interesting – it took about 4 goes to get the arrow how we wanted it, but the ‘for sale’ was done in the first take! I can tell you, it’s hard writing backwards 🙂

Thanks to Andrew for the help! I hope you enjoy the image as much as we enjoyed creating it 🙂

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